It cannot be stressed enough the necessity of maintaining a layer of mulch in the root zones of trees. Mother nature maintains a natural much layer by dropping leaves onto the forest floor. The leaf litter builds and provides trees with a natural source of nutrients and root zone protection. This process is often lost in urban environments. This plus other growing environment management changes greatly alter the natural process which often leads to tree stress.
Mulch Has Numerous Benefits:
- Mulch feeds the billions of microbes responsible for soil health
- It regulates soil temperature.
- It prevents water loss due to evaporation.
- It adds organic matter into the soil profile which helps create optimum conditions for the soil food web.
- Mulch helps prevent soil crust formation which repels water, possibly creating a drought condition even when watered.
- Mulch helps prevent soil erosion.
Mulch and Irrigation
If the soil beneath the tree canopy is bare, you need to apply and maintain a 4-6 inch thick layer of mulch on the soil surface. Choose a month of the year that you are able to perform the initial application, and then re-apply the wood mulch to maintain the four to six inch layer every year at the same month. Wood chips from a tree trimming company are a good source of mulch.
There are only a couple of tree species chips to avoid so ask the tree companies the source of wood before obtaining the chips. If you are in the beginning stages, we recommend that you install an in-line drip emmiter system onto the bare soil and then add the mulch layer. Using this system will help conserve water and prevent root collar diseases from water spray. In time, new feeder roots and the mycorrhizal fungal strands will proliferate at the soil/mulch interface.